New leadership course aims to address sustainability skills gap

26 Aug 2021

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According to IoD findings, 29pc of business leaders surveyed said that ESG would become their board’s most important issue in the next two years.

The pressing need for business leaders with in-depth knowledge of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues has led the Irish Institute of Directors to introduce a sustainability course for leaders.

The course announcement comes following the Institute of Directors’ (IoD) latest quarterly Director Sentiment Monitor research report, which found that almost one third – 29pc – of business leaders believed ESG would become the most desired skill for board members to possess over the next two years.

Of the 226 IoD members and business leaders surveyed, 72pc said that ESG matters had been added as a regular standing item on their board’s agenda. When asked about their own skills, only 10pc referenced ESG experience when they were asked what they believed the main expertise they brought to their board was.

In order to fill the skills gap, the IoD introduced its new ‘Leading Sustainability: What Directors Need to Know and Do’ course for leaders, which will be conducted over four in-depth sessions during October and November.

It will be led by Prof Simon Haslam, chartered director, and John Henry Looney, sustainability management consultant.

Commenting on the course launch, IoD CEO Maura Quinn said: “This course will provide a practical approach for directors to a critically important issue, with a focus on immediate takeaways. It will include an opportunity to apply learnings to the participant’s own organisation. It will also provide a means of assessing the unique opportunities that the ESG agenda presents for participants’ organisations and sectors.”

Quinn referenced the course’s timing in terms of the IPCC’s recent report on the climate crisis as well as the upcoming COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this November.

“Against the background of the recent alarming report on climate change from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change, the course will also offer insights into the circular economy, the key issues and solutions regarding environmental challenges,” she said.

“Sustainability does not require us to sacrifice profit but asks us to broaden our assessment of capital and its value, while exploring how to optimise our people and other assets for a global future benefit.”

Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.